Do you have an enlarged prostate? Are you having trouble starting to pee, or are you frequently peeing, especially at night? If so, you could have benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), otherwise known as an enlarged prostate, one of the most common diseases affecting aging men.
Treatment for the condition can depend on how much the symptoms affect your quality of life and can include lifestyle changes, medicines, catheters and surgery. But if medications and healthier lifestyle patterns don't work or you're squeamish about surgery, there is another treatment option available that is becoming increasingly popular: prostate artery embolization (PAE). This quick, minimally invasive outpatient procedure can lead to noticeable improvements in less than 48 hours.
Before looking at the treatment in a little more detail, let's get down to some biological basics.
The prostate is a small walnut-sized rubbery gland that sits right below the bladder in the male body. Its primary function is to produce fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. And like every other part of the human body, it can go wrong from time to time.
Benign prostate hyperplasia is a common non-cancerous condition that isn't usually a severe threat to health. The cause is unknown, but it's believed to be linked to hormonal changes as men get older.
As the prostate gets bigger, it can partially block the urethra (the duct that originates in the bladder and carries urine and semen), which can cause:
- Urinary incontinence, from minor leaks to complete loss of bladder control
- Increased urine frequency
- Pain when urinating
If left untreated, BPH can lead to kidney and bladder complications, not to mention continuing discomfort and the possibility of urinary tract infection and acute urinary retention. So how can you make the problems and difficulties go away? The answer is prostate artery embolization.
What is Prostate Artery Embolization?
PAE is a non-surgical procedure that involves blocking off the prostatic arteries that feed the gland. This permanently impedes blood flow that is causing swelling in the prostate.
How is PAE Performed?
The procedure is carried out under local anesthetic, which means a patient isn't put to sleep. During this relatively new and exciting treatment for men, a small puncture is made in the groin, and a tiny catheter (a thin, hollow tube held in place with a balloon at one end) is placed into the artery that leads to the prostate.
Once the catheter is in position, a solution is injected containing thousands of microspheres that plug up the artery, blocking the flow of blood. This is what is known as embolization. The procedure is then repeated on the other side of the prostate, typically through the same original puncture.
During the PAE, a contrast dye will be injected into the blood vessels so the flow of blood can be seen under x-ray. This is known as an arteriogram.
PAE takes about two hours and is not painful. However, patients may be given medication to take away any anxiety they may be feeling and make them more comfortable during the entire process.
After the procedure, patients are taken to a recovery room for routine observations such as having their blood pressure taken. This is to ensure there are no untoward effects.
What Happens To The Prostate?
Over time the prostate gland shrinks in size because it is starved of blood. When this happens, the urethra opens up, which means urine can flow more freely. It is not possible to block all the prostate's blood supply so the gland doesn't die.
Who Is A Candidate For PAE?
All men who are diagnosed with BPH who don't want surgery and are not seeing results from medications are suitable candidates for PAE. But you are not suitable for the non-surgical treatment if you have poor kidney function and are allergic to the contrast dye.
Key Benefits of Prostate Artery Embolization For An Enlarged Prostate
- As a non-surgical procedure, there is a lower risk of complications and side effects
- Patients can expect a quick and comfortable recovery alongside improved symptoms Patients can return to work and resume normal activities within a couple of days
- It has a very high success rate. Around 80% of patients report improvement in their symptoms following the procedure
- Some insurance policies, including Medicare, cover PAE
How MINT Can Help
If you've been diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia, we can relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
At Midwest Institute for Non-surgical Therapy (MINT), we perform prostate artery embolization on an outpatient basis. To make an initial consultation appointment, use our online booking service today.